n-home trial. call now for your free information kit and a free $50 savings card. call now! tonight, they rose to defend freedom. >> i wanted to be a pilot. >> but the color of their skin forced them to fight battles at one. >> crashes, germans or fellow americans here in my country? >> so i can do it. >> red tails. the saga of live from america's news headquarters i'm laura green
annual focus on congress woman with a gunshot to the head. >> from that horrible day, i will never forget to see your voice. >> new fears as the death toll rises to 13 the cruise ship disaster off the coast of itally. divers pulling another victim from among the wreck. 19 people are listed as missing but authorities say there may have been unregistered passengers on board. >> and an american aircraft carrier sailing into the straight of hormus. saying the uss abraham lincoln entered the gulf. and iranian officials warned
the u.s. not to return to the straits. the iran not happy with new economic sanctions is threatening to close the straight and block oil trade. >> three american airlines crew members were hurt on a flight when their flight encountered turbulence. the flight landed safely and three attendants were taken to the hospital. >> still not word on what sparked a deadly fire in a campus house in new york 90 miles north of manhattan. two female students and a man were killed. now, back to "war stories". >> welcome to war stories. i'm oliver north. this is tuskegee, alabama.
today it's a small airport. and more prepare to join the fight. this is part of a military experiment. in july, 1941. the small group of americans all of them volunteers gathered on this very ground. their goal? build a special fighter unit for u.s. army air corps. but it wasn't planes they flew or weapons they employed but the color of their skin. the 1940s, our military, like our country was segregated. many believed black men couldn't fly combat aircraft. they were asked to prove them wrong and they did. by war's end, tuskegee trained over a thousand black aviators and many thousands mechanics and technicians. the crew was 16,000 combat missions. and never lost a bomber to an
enemy fighter, tonight on war stories, for red tail, the saga of the tuskegee airmen. >> i wasn't -- i never felt i couldn't do it. flying was something i really wanted to do. >> but before they can fly they'd have to overcome a country separated by prejudice. >> people in theaters had to sit in balconies this, type of thing. it was going on at that time. first time i heard was
kindergarten. we were singing a song, pull, pull, one two three. >> he was born in 1920, to jamaican immigrant parents. >> so that evening saying son in school he says i knew he was angry. he said son i'm not angry with you. and i said hateful word don't ever use it again. >> thomas and lynn holeman are the authors of black knights, story of the tuskegee airmen. >> there was segregation in the north as well. it just wasn't as overt as it was in the south. >> the degree varied from state to state, it was adhered to within the u.s. military, chow lines, living quarters
and barber shops were separate. >> the beginning of america and they were treated in a self-serving basis. >> and this 1925 army war college study drew shocking conclusion autos they said they can't operate complicated equipment. they're cowardly. and in the face of danger and things like that. >> that lear, lee archer was growing up in harlem. >> i fell in love with the idea of a gentleman warrior. >> world war i ace. charles lindburg, the heroes of american aviation. >> the wright brothers are still alive. did that in any way make you
want to fly? >> no. it wasn't looking at that airplane flying over and saying i would like to do that. >> charles mckey would develop a love affair with flight. south carolinain stan watson's passion began while he was a child. >> once or twice a year you'd be trying to find that airplane. but we never did. >> as for three members of a black family lynched near their homes, his family was from lodi, new jersey. crowds gathered for a ride on a fantastic flying machine. >> a man with a megaphone was selling tickets. he noticed us. i was bright enough.
he was a little colored boy. and he was mocked and ha, ha. and he landed and he was amazed. >> in 1939 hitler invading poland. air power would play a vital role in world war ii. in an america that year, president roosevelt signed an act that created civilian pilot training program. >> male, female, black, white. option was unlimited. i believe there were only six african american school that's offered training. >> one was the tuskegee institute in alabama by end of 1939 there were just 125 licensed black aviators a year
later, 231. it gave them hope the army would let them fly n january, 41 the army air corps announced a all-black squadron. >> it was a chance for advancement in a career. >> i want to take advantage of this. >> black aviation given a boost in spring of 41. on a trip to tuskegee eleanor roosevelt asked to be flown by one of the black pilots. >> that looks like something boy like to do. and suggested that wasn't something they thought was adviseable. and she said, you don't understand. i really want to do that.
and the first laid ease pilot, alfred anderson borrowed $2500 from family and friends to buy his first airplane. with tips he taught himself to fly. >> anderson was very impressive. he could charm anyone. and he could make you feel you can fly. >> stan watson, george bowl and charles biden were some of the first to arrive in tuskegee. heading south by train into the heart of segregated america was a eye opening experience. he arrived in alabama. >> they had colored signs and white signs. took advice from the south crew. they said what you do is stay away from the white folks in the south. they're trouble. stay out of trouble.
>> surprise attack on pearl harbor occurred as first cadets were training. four months later first class got it's wings including west point graduate captain benjiman davis. >> with the exception of an order. >> surviving this and continued to love to, serve the country. it was remarkable example of patriotism it was tough, but fair, the same couldn't be said for the first commander of tuskegee. >> von kimble wasn't really happy to be there. wasn't in favor of the program. >> wanting to avoid trouble he transferred von kimble to another post n february, 43 he was replaced by colonel parish. >> one of his first actions
was to remove the colored-only and whites-only signs from around the base. >> colonel parish, that was my man. he supported us. it wasn't a way for officers to do. >> parish's sense of fairness extended to instructor autos white instructors were just as good and just as friendly. and just as encouraging. >> he beat me to death, with that stick, making sure i did it right. >> instructor pilots are very difficult with white cadets as well as black cadets so they got very good training. >> two out of three washed out. many have been good enough to earned wings in unsegregated military but there were only 30 or so spots in the
all-black squadron. >> and they made it and the decades since have done little to diminish the thrill of the graduation day. >> i wasn't a braggard, but i was proud. >> my heart was beating and i thought it would leap out of my chest. >> and they earned their wings but this unit remained grounded their frustrating wait for the chance to fight, next on "war stories".
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pilot training. >> i didn't think it was making a stand for the future of the country originally. with me it was in your face you tell me i can't do it? i'll prove it to you, i can. >> and george bowlan, stan watson and charles drieden were still waiting to ship out. for drieden it had been a year since he graduated but nobody knew what to do with a black pilot. >> most were sent overseas to fight for their country. >> i said i'm ready, whenever it comes if it comes. >> to be the best damned pilot i can be. >> 99th became one of the best-trained in the army air corps because we had so much time to spend, training.
>> finally, in 1943 they received orders. >> it was a shock to see your name on a list of people. >> what did you physically get on a ship and head over? >> we left tuskegee by train and went to new york. we were there two weeks. being outfitted with all winter stuff. we thought we're going to britain. >> but they weren't. they were heading to north africa. an 15, april, 400 members of the squadron boarded ssmariposa. the highest ranking areaman was a tuskegee airmen. >> he was a troop commander of the whole field. one morning we woke up, beautiful day. beautiful day. never forget it. there was. >> once it got there, they didn't know what to do with
use next day we were herded on board a train that took us about 75 miles and they cut us out of a big circle to be used as a simulated practice. >> practice, they did. >> we were there two weeks before we got the 40 autos we practiced and more training that would prove invaluable. >> we knew german tactics. and he taught us what he knew. then, we were deployed to a place called farjuna. >> my first mission was an ss mission. second mission was to fly over the island and drop bombs on it it's a rocky 42 square mile island 63 miles off the coast of sicily.
eyesen hower decided because it had to be taken. in june of 43 the 99th joined operation cork screw. heavy aerial bombardment of the island. they chased after four attacking german tanks and became the first black army air corps pilots to engage with the enemy but it would come back to haunt them. >> to be the first black to shoot down one of those s.o.b.. i knew i was a tiger pot a -- not a busy cat. >> -- pussy cat. >> and there was a different
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squadron was instrumental. >> did anyone stop by and say well done, guys? >> no. not indeed. we ended up being assigned and commanded by colonel but they did not welcome us. >> in 99th spent the customer on escort missions. 2, july marks first kill. >> shot down a 490. >> lieutenant sherman white and james mccullen killed in a mid air collision. a week later they were forced to fly allied missions to support the allied invasion in sicily. >> we were flying and didn't have a long range. therefore, flying over sicily
from north africa. we had to fly and do whatever you had to do, go right back. >> and on 11, july, things didn't go as planned for george bowlen. >> we took chase. and so the fleet opened fire, bowling was caught in cross fire. >> there were just bullets everyone. unof the bullets struck my plane. i thought i was going to be on fire. but... i'm checked instruments and i had no oil pressure he was forced to bail out into the mediterranean sea. >> i found out then and it was a lesson. out there, i just sat there. hoped. prayed. >> the following morning he
spotted the u.s. destroyer. >> i did everything i could hollered and waved. that ship went on by, disappeared. and i was lonely, again. next thing i noticed it was coming back. this time directly at me. i said my goodness they want to run me down. but they pulled up alongside. >> in september, 43 lieutenant davis was recalled hem to train more black pilots in michigan. his 11, 99th came under attack. >> in large part accusing black pilots of being cowards. >> he criticizes the lack of german kills. >> we weren't cowards.
we weren't going to turn and run. >> reports say it failed to display aggressiveness and come bats necessary to a first class fighting organization and reported the squadron seemed to fall part and used when driving stan and others broke formation to persue attacking enemy aircraft. >> that was just wasn't true. we weren't afraid to fly. he knew that. >> in september, 43 "time" magazine asked, quote, is the negro as good a soldier as the white man? and the tuskegee airmen certainly answer that had
live from america's news headquarters i'm lauren green. the tornado watch at this hour, warnings for a number of states. for reports of damage in arkansas. people in this visity are encouraged to look for shelter. and there is snow in iowa and a rain forecast turning to snow in minnesota and wisconsin. national weather service issuing freezing rain service for parts of ill skpil iowa, too. in southeastern minnesota police responded to over 70 crashes on slick roadways. just over a week before the florida primary, republican
presidential hopeful says who has got to go. newt gingrich's stunning victory putting mitt romney in doubt. and some see as president obama's radicalism. and romney in south carolina and florida contest seen as a critical one for him and santorum sq z.ron paul in third and fourth. and penn state turning a campus flag in a memorial for the passing of the legendary coach. the university planning more events to commemorate his life and contributions to the school. he died of lung cancer sunday morning at age 85. he was fired late last year in the middle of a child sex abuse scandal. >> new york giants face the
patriots at the super bowl. and in a sudden death overtime, 20-17. and the final showdown is set for february 5th engineer indianapolis. lauren green. ies". >> by september, 43 sicily was in allied hands. italians decided they'd had enough and surrendered but this didn't bring peace, hitler aordered invasion of italy. the battle would be long and fierce. early that september allied troops and american general landed on the southern end of the italian boot. back in the states lieutenant
colonel benjiman davis was stationed in michigan. >> they formed 103 second fighter squadron. they moved us out of tuskegee and up to michigan while we're up there, we had riots up there and said we were troublemakers. >> what was the cause of the friction? >> the college wanted to go into the officer's club. government made these officers join the club. they took money out to pay. but won't let blacks go in there. they'd go in and there would be a riot. another incident a base commander up there. they sent a black negro to be his chauffeur, they shot him. >> he survived and colonel
was -- the congressman called it a farce. secretary of war stintson agreed and ousted poleman from the army. >> it was a general attitude that this program needed to fail. >> race riots face baised on the critical report had potentially grave consequences. in october of 43 colonel davis's wife wrote to the editor of "time" magazine saying these words have struck at one of the strongest killers of holding negros morale. governor davis called for special policies to defend the squadron. his testimony bolstered by ernie piles. support came from the front
line in the form of general eisenhower. >> and the commission read to it. their finding was that black pilots were everything. it was popular to say negroes couldn't fly. and blacks were not good. we were. >> in january, 44, 50,000 men led by general john p lucas stormed ashore this, is the second chance to break the german hold on itally. and marked a turning point for the tuskegee airmen. >> 17 germans were shot down by the squadron. 17 in two days. that is when the world began to realize oh, they can do it. >> the secretary of war was
very laudatory and wrote glowing reports. >> the 99th blasted the enemy out of the sky, benjiman davis failed to join them. >> they're loading 500 pound bombs on the ship. they're loading bombs on and launched us down on to the ship. one of the oldest troops said see what happens? they're going to take us on the ocean and blow up the ship. nobody is going to hear about is us anyone. we believed them. >> did they pack up your plane? >> no. just the troops. we went in through toronto. >> charles mckey and lee archer joined the fight. >> they suddenly changed us to another aircraft called p 39 not much of a combat aircraft. just four machine guns, two on
each wing and a cannon in the nose. and the gas tank, no gas and a terrible airplane it wasn't good for air to air combat. so the 47 really a rugged aircraft. and can make a pretty big hole. >> i think that most untold story in the most important of the tuskegee experience is work of the mechanics. they would take a airplane and say you're fixing this one. there was no time to go to engine school. it ended right there. >> the 99th became part of the 332 fighter group, stationed in italy.
their mission? bomber escort. >> they didn't realize they were being escorted by black pilots. you looked over and you saw someone wearing an oxygen mask. a helmet. gloves. >> tra teethic bombing took place day and night, involving hundreds of aircraft dropping thousands of tons of bombs behind the front lines. american b 24s to bomb by daylight. and massive formations along over 200 miles per hour. they were targets for enemy fighters that could reach speeds well over 300 miles per hour. for protection, american fighters escorted the bombers but bombers bristled with 50 caliber machine guns.
>> so much stuff going on. did you get shot at? >> not that i'm aware of. we did become accomplished to come up and let them see who we are. come by, straight in. >> and squadrons began painting parts of the aircraft different colors. >> i'd say the tips, nose were red. >> do you remember whose idea waits? >> no. i don't. >> why red? >> i suggested just happened some of the supply point of view red paint was available. >> they came to be known as red tailers and new paint scheme would adorn another airplane. b 51 mustang solved a longstanding problem. p 51 could stay on the mission. >> i admit if i didn't they'd
kill me. >> the bombers were briefed that red tails would get us they had a strong sense of surviveal. >> red to their services were being reflected. >> they were literally save yoers to the bombers the fact the bomber boys never forgot. >> some from other squadrons didn't like the idea of staying up there with us. but the tuskegee airmen stayed up there through form maigs like they're supposed to. >> we were coming home, we lost an engine and out of the troop. by ourselves z we called for a fighter escort to go home with us. it happened to be a teeg airmen that came to get us. he was real classy flying that p 51 out there. brought us home. >> they knew their coo expected a lot of them.
over and the guy bailed out. the fellow landed and standing there. i came down and pulled up which is why i thought the other fighter pilot was all about. >> lee archer strapped on his p 51 and lifted off. >> we're coming back from a big mission and i guess they'd gotten tired of us. they sent us an airplane, all over the place. >> i remember thinking then my big worry is that i'd yot would run into me. i ended up lucky. i came home. and they proved it those three kills would have given him five air to air victories making him an air, the first tuskegee airmen to reach this
status. >> a month after that happened we get a notice saying you were the first one and gave me a half credit. and i let it go saying to heck with this. at the time i think i said something about victory and ten cents would get me a ride in the subway. it was just plane racist. i don't think they were ready for a black guy to be called an ace. >> war stories contacted the historical research agency regarding the record. we're told the official title for now is four air to air victories. >> the tuskegee airmen going to escort bombers to berlin the next day. we only had 75 gallon tanks on the base. >> berlin was over 1600 miles away. without larger tanks red tails won't be able to stay with bombers out and back.
technical sargeant george watson was there when the supply team found 110 gallon tanks on a train. >> i rolled in with chief warrant officer. we went to the depo. officers told to us stay out. we said we need 110 gallon wing tanks because tuskegee airmen were going on a mission. we said we have the 110 gallon wing tanks but it's not for you people. it's going to another outfit. and we had a semi circle with weapons pointing at engine and an american staff sargeant. this guy looks around and saw us and put his hands up. officer said okay. back up there and get those 110 gallon tanks. a lot of the original tuskegee men said that great train robber world war ii said don't
call it that. call it operation fuel tanker. sounds better. >> seven weeks better the war in europe ended. >> and the tuskegee airmen weren't among them. >> there is no consideration given to moving those squadrons? >> apparently not at that time. at least for a black unit. >> victory didn't bring an end to segregation. they came home, when "war [ male announcer ] when do you take 5-hour energy? when i'm on the night shift. when they have more energy than i do. when i don't feel like working out. when there isn't enough of me to go around. ♪ when i have school. and work. every morning. it's faster and easier than coffee. every afternoon when that 2:30 feeling hits. -every day. -every day. every day is a 5-hour energy day.
monumental. planners anticipated two million japanese casualties. two atomic bombs didn't mean a surrender. jatan surrendered invasion plan was scrapped. kblinls came home to a victory welcome well deserved for tuskegee airmen something sm things hadn't changed. >> i came home from world war ii with 59 combat missions i came home, first sign i saw was colored to the left, white troops to the white. so you get the question once in a while. it should make you hate everybody. but you have to balance it with the good guys from the other side that you met.
and if you had reasoning power to realize that this is not a world wide thing. >> there are german prisoners of war saying we'd just been fighting. defend our country against the enemy. and there are soldiers and we had to sit in segregated colored section. and there i couldn't believe. >> why did you stay in the air force after the war? >> my dream was always to stay a pilot. >> you couldn't find other than working as porters or construction labor. being in the military is not a
bad job. they decided to stay. but waits not always easy. >> they're doing pretty well for yourselves but you're still segregated. you don't like it but what can you do about it? you know? i was going to wait and find out what i can do about it in 1947 air force ceased to exist and air force was born. harry truman signed executive order desegregating the military more than 15 years before 1964 civil rights act abolished civilian jim crow laws. >> the worst organization in the world is now the leading organization for equality and equal treatment. >> change wasn't instant n 1954 stan watson attending a commanding staff school in alabama like career military enjoyed getting a hair cut once a week. the base barber shop refused
to cut a black man's hair. >> this is supposed to be enlightened center in the air force after five years? what do you want to do? >> george bowlly stayed in the air force and retired as a major. saw military desegregation as a sign of better things to come. >> i was in sacramento. we had a general in charge of the base there. he told the command that i have an order here from washington signed by the president we're going to integrate this base. i've never heard the strong comments. >> benjiman davis continued to serve and in 1998 president clinton promoted him to four star general. george watson dedicated 26 years to the air force, serving overseas in england and germany.
>> were you better off for having served?. >> oh, yes. i know i am. >> all stayed with air force, all rose to rank of lieutenant colonel. >> i was asked last week by a young man said that why did you do it? and i gave him a story that to fight for your rights, you do anything to get what you think you deserve. but when the country is in trouble, you drop that. he said well, colonel would you do it again? i couldn't answer right away. i said yes, i would. i said, payment is late. but... we received a payment. and that is all you can expect. >> charles mcgee retired as a colonel. >> what do you want that youngster to know about tuskegee? what you went through? >> things aren't always perfect in our case, in a
democracy there is no better way of life. >> you can set a goal and you've got to do some work, doing your best. and not letting obstacles deter you from accomplishing that, that goal. >> if you think negatively you're taking yourself out of positive to do your best because you're looking the wrong way. there is a good side to everything. that is what you should see. >> more on the saga of the >> more on the saga of the tuskegee air men when "war i remember the day my doctor told me i have an irregular heartbeat, and that it put me at 5-times greater risk of a stroke. i was worried. i worried about my wife, and my family. bill has the mos common type of atrial fiillation, or afib. it's not caused by a heart valve problem. he was taking warfarin, but i've put him on pradaxa instead. in a clinical trial, pradaxa 150 mgs reduced stroke risk 35%
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good call. >> when you see the men who trained here is intact. u.s. air force inscription and statue dedicated to them reads tuskegee airmen rose from adversity through confidence, courage and commitment to serve america on silver wings and set a standard few will transcend. today, minorities serve in every branch of the u.s. armed forces. and daring deeds of the tuskegee airmen helped pave the way. every american owes them a debt of gratitude for enemies van qished abroad and racism overcame here at home. theirs is a war story